After Eric Bristow won the BDO World Darts Championship in 1985, making it four titles in six years, the legendary commentator Sid Waddell knew exactly which comparison to draw.

“When Alexander of Macedonia was 33,” Waddell said, “he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer … Bristow’s only 27.”

If we can transpose that to a more localised setting – Cian Lynch and Aaron Gillane are both only 26 and Kyle Hayes is 24. If Limerick were to beat Galway in Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final, they would be on a brink of a third straight Liam MacCarthy victory and a fourth in five years – with time still on their side to amass more.

Aaron Gillane of Limerick. \ Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Of course, there is an “if” there for a reason: a bit like the French rugby team, Galway are capable of following aching frustration with mind-bending brilliance and those predicting an upset this weekend could point to the semi-final in the depths of winter 2020, when Limerick only won by three after a late surge.

There is a danger in putting too much store in that game as Limerick had an uncharacteristically bad day in terms of shooting, but Galway have shown time and again that they are capable of upscuttling unbackable favourites – and the All-Ireland semi-final is often the place where they do it.

They will obviously need to improve a lot from the quarter-final against Cork – as much down to under-performance on the part of the Rebels as it was brilliant play by the Tribesmen.

In saying that, Galway didn’t let Cork draw level at any stage in the first half, adding the scores as and when required to keep their noses in front.

Back in Croke Park, where they fell flat in the Leinster final against Kilkenny, Henry Shefflin’s men will be going in without too much outside expectation and that could suit them. It would take a near-perfect performance from them and an off-day from Limerick – but that happened them against Kilkenny at the same stage in 2019 and they will be coming off a four-week layoff since beating Clare in the Munster final.

Clare showed the toll of that epic encounter as they struggled to get going against Wexford in the quarter-finals, but eventually they came with a final push that got them over the line. Given the pre-match side-show surrounding the proposed (but later rescinded) suspensions for Rory Hayes and Peter Duggan, the result was all that mattered for Brian Lohan’s side and now they will realise what a great opportunity lies in front of them on Saturday evening.

Not that Kilkenny will be easily seen off, especially as they are seeking to avoid another semi-final defeat to Munster opposition. Not since 1997 have we had a situation where the Cats were absent from the final three years running and if that were to happen, it would illustrate the shifting of the power base from Noreside to Shannonside.

But, of course, anything could happen.

Penalty pressure

Is a penalty shootout an awful way to lose a GAA championship match? Absolutely, but then there’s not a nice way to have your season ended.

Was it “a disgrace” that Armagh exited the championship on penalties to Galway, as Seán Cavanagh said on The Sunday Game? Absolutely not – the rules have been in place since before the 2020 championship and perhaps the only surprise is that, given how common draws seemed to be when replays were in force, we haven’t had a high-profile example before now.

Stefan Campbell of Armagh shoots his penalty wide in the penalty shoot-out of the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Armagh and Galway at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

On the live broadcast, Pat Spillane threw out the “It’s a lottery,” line, which is a cliché and nothing more – while it may be an imperfect way to settle a contest, a shootout is something that can be prepared for.

It comes down to nerve and skill, like most things in sport – people will say that the pressure can’t be replicated but how would they react if they were told that the pilot flying their plane was on a first run and had never used a simulator before? It was a pity, obviously, that it ended as it did, given the entertainment that the counties had provided over the course of 90 minutes – minus, of course, the caveman stuff that happened as the sides left the pitch at the end of normal time.

Maybe sudden-death extra time, the classic schoolyard “next score wins”, would be a fairer way to decide things – it would appease those who are against penalties because they are an import from soccer, but can’t say so out loud – but when the schedule is as tight as it is, unfortunately there has to be some way to determine a winner on the day.

Damien Comer of Galway scores a penalty in the penalty shoot-out of the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Armagh and Galway at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Of course, while the shootout score was 4-1 for the Tribesmen – who now face Derry in a semi-final, reminiscent of 1998 and 2001, when the men in maroon went all the way – it was amusing to see the Croke Park scoreboard still set up as normal, showing: ‘Gaillimh 4-00 (12) Ard Mhacha 1-00 (3).’

Kit convention

It’s time to come out of the closet – I am a sports kit nerd. Visit my site if you don’t believe me.

Were it not for the fact that domestic commitments have tied me to a weekend of extreme parenting, I would be making the trip to Dundalk on Saturday for Kit Con Éire, Ireland’s first kit conference, which takes place in the Imperial Hotel.

Eddie O’Mahony’s collection of Ireland matchworn shirts will be the main attraction but there will be a strong mix of exhibitors, vendors, presentations and panel discussions, covering a variety of topics. Tickets cost €12 and the price includes entry fee, football walking tour of Dundalk, entry to kit discussions and a raffle ticket. See @kitconeire for more.